tv Tavis Smiley PBS January 14, 2014 12:00am-12:31am PST
tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with michael kimmel his new book white man,ngry american masculinity at the end of an era." takes a hard look at why so many white men feel marginalized by today's rapidly changing demographics. then we will turn to a conversation with singer- songwriter johnny rivers, remembering where it all began for him on the sunset strip at the legendary venue the whiskey a go-go. we are glad you joined us. those conversations coming up right now.
has now written a tome taking a deep i'm into this serious disconnect called "angry white men, american masculinity at the end of an era." tell me why you think this is worth taking note of. i asked that for the obvious reason, there are so many disenfranchised sectors of our society that there are those who would take a look at this and say who cares about white man? they still have the best of everything. but there's something about this that is worthy of us taking a deep dive into. tell me why. >> i think first of all, they are very powerful. some of the angry white men are very powerful. when you hear the day after president obama was reelected, when you hear them say things like we have lost our country am a when you hear republican senators say, for example, that we have to mobilize angry white guys as the base of our constituency if are going to win an election, then you understand
that they are mobilizing this anger in a particular kind of political way. i think it is worth paying some attention to. tavis: so legitimately are illegitimately, what are they angry about? >> i think there is anger in general because i feel like they feel like they have been betrayed. they expected some things in their lives and they are not getting them. aggrievedwhat i call entitlement. i feel like they are not getting what they were entitled to get. let me tell you little bit about how i first began to think about this note. i think it will illustrate why i think some of these guys are angry and where that anger goes. i was on a talk show in front of a live studio audience some years ago, opposite for guys who were am a i would not call them angry white men. these were guys who were white men who believed they were qualified for jobs, qualified
for promotion come and they didn't get it, and they were really angry. the title this particular episode of the show was a quote from one of these guys, a black woman stole my job. have justto them, i one question for you about the title of your show, and it's ."tually about one word, "my ay isn't it a black woman got job, or a black woman got the job? we won't understand what motivates their sense of anger. white men in america believe this is a level playing field. willilt a little bit, they say water is rushing uphill, it is reverse discrimination against us. i tried to get inside that sense of aggrieved entitlement. we were entitled to these positions, entitled to these jobs, and to try to get the sense of why they felt so angry and aggrieved about it.
tavis: it might not be that white men or anybody else is entitled to anything in society, but if in fact they have done all the things that society tells them to do, they have stayed out of trouble, they have gone to school, they have married, started a family, invested their money. they have done all the things we are told as americans that if we do, the american dream is yours. so it might not be a sense of entitlement, but have they not paid their dues, where there ought to be something on the other end. >> i agree entirely. one of the things i felt when i was listening to the stories, i felt enormous amounts of compassion for them. i actually believe that americans are entitled to have a job that makes us feel like we have some dignity in our lives, that we live a life of integrity and we have good family relationships.
that.uld feel entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, endowed by our creator. question from my interviews is, what is preventing you from having that life to which you are entitled? do you think it is black women who have downsized you, who have outsourced your job, who have closed the factories? is lesbians and gays who are responsible for climate change? do you think it is immigrants who in many ways have outsourced your job? of course not. is it immigrants who have -- who are the predatory lenders? no. men are right to be angry, but they are delivering their mail to the wrong address. tavis: what is preventing them from assigning blame where it ought to be placed?
>> if you have been badly done by, which many men have, many of the white guys i talked to have been badly done by. if you see your situation in race or gender terms, the black woman stole my job -- you're going to move to the right. but if you see it in class terms, you are going to move to the left. let me give you an example of a couple of angry white men. told -- tom joe, bruce springsteen, they are angry, but they don't see their situation in terms of race or gender. that's not the source of their problems. they see it in terms of class, and they moved to the left. emotion, not a theory. you could go to the right or to the left. difference makes the in which way they turn, left or right? >> i think it is the prism through which they see things.
i also think they are invited to and often manipulated to see it through those prisms of race or gender. talk radio, cable television. >> a friend of mine did a piece about rush limbaugh, and he heard this guy call in and say, i am really upset, i am really sad. i lost my job, and i can't pay the rent on my house and we might lose our house and i'm really upset about that. and rush said, you don't sound upset, you sound angry, and here is who you should be angry at. toclearly this anguish needs be manipulated and massaged into anger. tavis: i'm not naïve and asking this question, but why is it in our society ok, apparently, when you look back on what happened the last couple of election cycles, why is it ok for white men to be angry and it's not ok
for black men to be angry? >> clearly it is ok in our culture right now for white men to be angry because there is that sense of outrage. it is the way a lot of white men are claiming a kind of victim status. i don't think it is legitimate, or maybe it is legitimate, but it is just scary to white people and black people get angry. it is evident to me that one of the reasons barack obama off career has been so successful is because he never rose to the bait. he never got angry in public when he was campaigning against mccain or romney. people actually talked about how cool he was. notink still america would be ready to elect an angry black man. you talk about entitlements, and you made the philosophical point that as americans, we ought to be
entitled to certain things. i would put on that list that we ought to feel entitled to a living wage job, not a minimum wage job. we ought to feel entitled to an equal, high-quality education. we ought to feel entitled to a job that allows us to have some dignity. we ought to feel entitled to some health care. so i get your philosophical point that we all ought to feel entitled to that. give me your sense of how it is that we start to tweak this debate that is happening in washington now, which is really going to pick up here in the month of january. at the end of last her, we figured out what the budget was going to be. this month, the fight will be going in earnest about what we spend that on and what we don't spend it on. budgets are a moral document. we figure out this month on what we spend the money on. the trying to stop using
phrase entitlements and used the term earned benefits. what people are upset about, some of these angry white men are angry about his not so much that they feel entitled, but that these are earned benefits at they are now being screwed out of. is that make any sense? they think they are earned benefits. i think many of them feel like, i played by all the rules and now i'm not getting what i thought i had earned. respect that might be the case. i use the word entitlement to describe the kind' him for men. what you and i also seem to agree on is that the very things that will enable us to have these kinds of lives of enriched relationships tom a meaningful lives and work with dignity are certain kinds of policies that will enable us to have those things to which we feel entitled.
the fact that we don't have national health care, for aample, or what about as errant, what about childcare? what about a system of childcare that enables parents to work, that enables parents to raise their children? the moral fight about the budget is are we going to punish irking and people, people who work on a minimum wage cannot make a decent living enough to support their families. are we going to punish them further for actually trying as hard as they do? >> i take your point about the way you use the word and define the word entitlement. what i am suggesting is that line between what they feel as an entitlement and what many of them have legitimately earned as benefits from the cover -- from the government for what they paid into the system. is that line getting blurred? >> absolutely.
the best way you can see that is what is happening to returning veterans. they were promised all kinds of things. think about how many workers had their pensions cut or their health benefits cut by companies as they have gone forward. i'm 64 and my retirement just disappeared. think about how often we hear these kinds of stories. i agree entirely, that is an earned benefit. you agree those are benefits that sometimes they are due from corporate america. what do you make of the irony that these angry white man so often support a party and support policies that are pushing an agenda that is antithetical to their best interest? >> this is the real question i try to answer at the end of the book.
this is a kind of what's the matter with kansas western. how do you get people who are obviously in the same boat as other people who are facing the same kind of problem and have the same kind of sense of earned benefit? to is it you get them deliver their mail to the wrong address, to divert their attention to those below them on the latter rather than those above them who in many ways are running the show and causing the kind of problems they are actually facing. this is a kind of smoke and mirrors political manipulation. white man's is that anger is real. they really feel this, the man who i am talking about. on the other hand, it's not true. it's not an accurate analysis of their situation. because of their pain is not who they think it is. i think it is our job, writers, authors, twos it's part two
unpack that anger in a way that enables them to see what the real forces are. tavis: they are blaming the wrong person, but with regard to the poverty work i do, i keep thinking what a beautiful day it would be if these angry white man could in fact understand who is to blame for their condition. that is the ultimate in coalition building. you have to get all of these disenfranchised poor people to come together. but i digress on that point. the book is called "angry white men." a powerful book, a lot of research and it, written by stony brook or fester michael kimmel. the secret agent man himself, singer johnny rivers.
tavis: 50 years ago this month, the place to be here in l.a. if you love rock 'n roll was the sunset strip, specifically the whiskey a go go, where johnny rivers was just starting at the legendary club. five live albums recorded at the , 30 million albums and hit singles like secret agent man and poor side of town. town, rivers is back in headlining a concert. an honor to have you on this program. does it seem like five decades? >> no, it went by so quickly. >> it's really a thrill to be able to relive that again and play some of those songs and celebrate this anniversary, and have the bottom-line proceeds go
to the music in schools program which we have been initiating around the country. tavis: tell me more about that first. >> we did that at the riverside more, awith deacon john legendary blues guitar player. the next day we did it at mckinley high school in baton rouge, my old hometown, with herman jackson, bb king ostrom are. it's great, because we teach students who are interested in getting into music how to really go about it. we explained to them that music is like a wonderful fruit trees that there's all kinds of fruit off this one tree. deep down in the ground is the the 12 barthat is blues. if you're going to get into music, you've got to learn the 12 bar blues. that is the old expression. blues is the roots, and everything else is the fruits. tavis: that's very true.
take me back 50 years ago to the whiskey. i want to close my eyes and just set the scene for me, 50 years ago. >> opening night was very exciting because they had really done a great job, they had klieg lights out in front, almost like a hollywood premiere. people were lined up down the street. i had played at another club, a smaller place that was like a restaurant. basically we brought our following up from there. we had already gotten started when i was approached on the idea but elmer ballantyne who conceived the whole idea. the original whiskey a go-go was a small little club in paris, france that only played records and people danced. it was the hot spot in paris. elmer was there and he love that. i said what kind of name is that? he said there is a place in paris and they call it a discotheque. we want you to play three sets a night, but in between we will
have these gals dressed in fringes and they will play records between your sets so people can keep dancing. so that's how that all came about. all i did was play always old songs i had played back in my old ban in baton rouge, and chuck berry and little richard and jimmy reed and ray charles, you know. i grew up in that part of the country back in the 1950s. tavis: the audience was made up routinely of who's who. you have people like bob dylan and the stones and others coming to see you on stage. >> it would come up and hang out with us. at that time he was known as that guy that wrote that song for peter, paul, and mary, blowing in the wind. became a giant
superstar, but he was just this great guy that wanted to hang out. we would talk about music, and he loved the blues and whatever as well. one night in august of 1964, we were playing and all of a sudden the crowd shifted over to one side of the room. i asked my bass player what was going on, and he said i think the beatles are here. they had just done their first appearance at the hollywood bowl. john lennon, george harrison, and ringo came over. john state was jayne mansfield. >> not a bad date if you can get it. [laughter] >> so elmer took me over and introduced me, and later on we met them about a year later in europe and i've laid a place in london, and all four of them came. -- i played a place in london. >> to have people of that stature to just come and hang out with you. >> gina lola brigitta or cary
,rant dancing in front of you it was unbelievable. i kind of got used to it and almost took it for granted. it was a thrill. >> what made the whiskey such a fertile place for these live recordings? >> it could have actually been done anywhere. we had it going there so we brought in the remote trout. you only had days three tracks to record. we didn't have enough tracks to mike the audience, although the audience was clapping and singing along. we would have to go in the studio and bring along a bunch to simulate the audience reaction that we had live in the club. what are you most looking forward to about this gig, 50 years later? are lot of the people that coming from all around the
country. i have friends coming from new orleans and st. louis. working with jimmy webb as well, such a great talent. we haven't worked together in quite a while. we started out together in the 1960s and it is a thrill to be able to reform with him again. there is a part of me that is loath to ask his question, but i am really curious as to your point of view , what do you make of this rock 'n roll genre 50 years later? >> it is still going. it's just basically the blues. getting back to the foundation of what we are teaching these young kids, you've got to learn the blues, because that is the roots of it all. that is where jazz came from, where country music, bluegrass, it all came from the blues. you learn that, and then you have the foundation and you can go on and do classical music or whatever you want. you got to learn that first.
that is why rock music in its different forms still has that basic root thing to it that feels good. .t has to have that groove just like duke ellington said, it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. tavis: what do you make of the later, you0 years are still here? you are still here, still playing, looking sharp, looking good. >> thanks. for an old dude. tavis: a bunch of folk from that era -- my mom used to say to me all the time, the only way you don't live to get old is that you die young. we'll also many great musicians and artists because they got caught up in the whole drug era and all that. i didn't do that, and i took
care of myself. basically am a vegetarian. i run every day, i exercise and kind of control my living habits. i try to get a good night sleep every night. i don't stay up all night. >> not anymore. >> it's great, and i can still get out there and perform. i still enjoy that. i met a point where i've been blessed to have this long career. we want to be able to give back to the next generation and let them know where rock came from, where that music came from, where hip-hop came from. it's all from the blues. give me some sense of -- a little bit of what is on the playlist. >> were going to do the hits. with someme new songs cool album cuts. i'm going to do a song which immediately wrote that's on his new album. and were all going to get
together with the waters family. >> they can sing. >> it's going to be fine. tavis: i'm sure at this point you couldn't get a ticket if you wanted to unless you note johnny rivers personally. x i don't even have any. [laughter] tavis: that is his way of saying don't call me. i know you're going to have a blast. 50 years later, johnny rivers is on the scene. good to have you here. i know it's going to be a great show. good to see you. that's our show for tonight. thanks for watching, and as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with two actors in breakout roles in 12 years a slave and captain
% welcome. i'm rebekah king reed. this week we're in the win chester mystery house in san jose. it's one of the bay area's interesting places. there are acres of gorgeous gardens. and the fortune in the tiffany windows. we kept car penters working nonstop for 38 years building this lavish mansion. later, we'll meet an architect building as long as mrs. winchester and a man who lives with